Miami Marlins

Original Published Date: Nov. 3, 2012

The Miami Marlins have two of the most exciting prospects in all of baseball in Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich.  Both have all-star potential and should be poised for their big league debut in 2014 if not earlier.  Fernandez has been plain unhittable in his professional debut and Yelich has 20/20/.300 potential.

Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto, two lessor known prospects, are also exciting in their own right.  Ozuna has light-tower power and is starting to figure things out at the plate.  Realmuto brings athleticism and leadership to the backstop position and I believe that he is the catcher of the future in Florida.   I also haven’t given up on Chad James and in fact, I’m quite bullish on the lefty and believe that size and mechanics will prevail.

What I find the most interesting aspect of the Marlins system is that seven of the top ten prospects played in their High-A affiliate in 2012.  While this doesn’t bode well for the big league team getting help in 2013, in five years, you could be looking at the core of the Marlins on this very list.

1. Jose Fernandez (RHP)

2013 Age: 20 BP:Cuba (HS: FL.)
Ht: 6-3 Weight: 215 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 A-A+ 134.0 89 26 2 2.35 10.61 1.74 0.92

The journey of Jose Frenandez to defect from Cuba is not only compelling, but as I listened to the interview before last year’s Futures Game, I realized that the trials of baseball should be but a minor hurdle for this talented right-hander.  The story involves four attempts to escape Cuba, put in prison each time he was caught, and saving his mother who fell overboard.  Once he made it to the U.S., he only had two years of high school remaining and impressed scouts so much, that he was selected as the 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft.

Only a handful of minor league pitchers have ace potential and Jose Fernandez is one.  His stuff is filthy with a four-seam fastball that he can run into the upper 90’s and a two-seamer that has a lot of sink and should produce a ton of ground balls.  His power curve is also a plus pitch that has both right and left-handed batters flailing.  When I saw him, he didn’t throw a lot of change-ups and for good reason, the deception was not there yet.

Fernandez mechanics are solid with very good posture and balance that should help him keep his release point.  The delivery is free and easy, with the impression that he’s simply playing catch, except with a 95 MPH fastball.  From the stretch, he avoids the slide step and this helps him keep his mechanics solid, something that usually takes years for pitchers to learn.

While Fernandez only pitched in 11 games in the Florida State League, I would not be surprised if the Marlins start him in Double-A to begin the 2013 season.  If this happens, you could see Fernandez make his major league debut later in the year.

Fantasy Impact: The list of future aces in the minors is limited and includes Dylan Bundy, Shelby Miller, Taijuan Walker, Gerrit Cole, and Jose Fernandez.  Of all those listed, Fernandez has the weakest name recognition and therefore presents a buying opportunity for deeper fantasy leagues.  If I’m drafting in a new Dynasty League and want to draft a future number one, I would load up on hitters and then take Fernandez a little later on.

2. Christian Yelich (OF)

2013 Age: 21 BP: California
Ht:6-4  Weight: 190 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2014
2012 A+ 397 76 12 48 20 .330 .404 78.6 12.3 .394

In most systems, a slash line of .330/.404/.519 with 20 stolen bases would put you as the “Top Dog” for an organizational prospect list.  While Jose Fernandez is taking top honors for the Marlins, Christian Yelich is also an elite prospect with an all-star ceiling.

Yelich had a remarkable year in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, leading the league in slugging and second in batting average despite only hitting 12 home runs.  While the lack of home runs may worry some, many of those 29 doubles he hit will turn into home runs as he matures and develops power that his great hitting mechanics provide.

One of the first things you notice when you watch Yelich is his beautiful swing.  His setup is very quiet as he gently slides back into his load and explodes through the ball.  There is very little loss of kinetic energy and why I believe the potential for 20-25 home runs is there.  He also has a great approach and plate patience as is indicitive from his 12% walk rate.

Speed is also part of Yelich’s game as he stole 20 bases and was only caught stealing six times.   He also uses his speed in the outfield which gives him nice range and the ability to track down balls.  However his routes could use improvement and his arm is average.  He is currently playing centerfield and I see no problem in this being his position upon promotion to the major leagues.

Fantasy Impact: I prefer Jose Fernandez as a pure baseball prospect, but from a fantasy perspective; I would strongly consider taking Yelich first.  Yelich could very quickly become a 20/20 player with a .300 batting average with RUNS and RBI as he profiles as a number three hitter.  Once he matures, I could see his home run power improving.  From a fantasy standpoint, it doesn’t get much better than that.

3. Marcell Ozuna (OF)

2013 Age: 22 BP: D.R.
Ht:6-2  Weight: 190 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2015
2012 HiA 489 89 24 95 8 .266 .328 76.3 9.4 .299

I once heard someone say that Marcell Ozuna is such an aggressive hitter that he’ll swing at pitches from the on-deck circle.   While he does have an aggressive swing, it’s also highly leveraged and perfect for launching bombs which he did very successfully in 2012 by leading the Florida State League with 24.  For comparison, New York Yankees farm-hand, Kyle Roller came in second with 18.

The biggest worry with sluggers like Ozuna is will he make enough contact to tap into his plus-plus raw power.  In seeing him in 2011, I was very concerned with the approach as he didn’t work counts and truly swung at everything.  However, in the at-bats I had a chance to scout in 2012, the approach was definitely better, even with some shortening of his swing once he got two strikes.

Speaking of Ozuna’s long swing, there is a lot of confusion of what constitutes a long swing.  Many people believe that the length of the swing is measured by how deep the player takes his load.  While this might seem logical on the surface, that’s not it.  While there are a number of contributing factors to a long swing, the most common is the batter extending his arms at the point of his back swing.  If you extend your arms instead of keeping them compact and almost hitting down on the ball, it takes a split second longer to make contact and unfortunately a lot can happen during that split second.  While the result is generally reduced contact, by extending the arms, tremendous leverage can occur with the opportunity to hit the ball a long way.

As an outfielder, Ozuna profiles best in right to take advantage of his plus-plus arm.  He’s an average runner but has shown a penchant for stealing bases by collecting eight in 2012 and 17 in 2011.

Fantasy Impact: If it all comes together for Ozuna, he could be a top 40 fantasy player with 30+ home runs, a .260 batting average with high single-digit stolen bases.   However, because of the swing, there is downside contactability risk that might limit this ceiling.  In the mean-time, I’m investing in Ozuna in all Dynasty League formats.

4. Jacob (J.T.) Realmuto (C)

2013 Age: 22 BP: Oklahoma
Ht:6-1  Weight: 190 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
2012 HiA 446 63 8 46 13 .256 .319 85.7 8.3 .282

The future catcher for the Miami Marlins is J.T. Realmuto.

After playing quarterback, shortstop, and wrestling for his high school team, the Marlines drafted Realmuto in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft for above-slot money.  After signing him, they moved the athletic Realmuto to catcher to take advantage of his plus-arm and his perceived leadership ability.  The move has clearly worked and makes you realize the astuteness of certain organizations to match the unique skill set of a player to a position.

While his 2012 stat line was only mildly impressive, the hitting mechanics are solid as Realmuto demonstrates an excellent approach to go along with terrific bat speed.  The swing is short and compact with the ability to hit to all fields and to eventually develop plus future power.

In addition to a nice hit-tool, Realmuto also has above average speed; 55 on a scouting scale of 20-80.  He used that speed to steal 13 bases in both 2011 and 2012 but did get caught 11 times over the two years.  While I don’t envision him challenging for stolen base titles, I think you can count on him to steal 10-12 stolen bases per year.

Fantasy Impact: I really like Realmuto and think he has a chance to be a first division fantasy catcher.  While I don’t see him as a Top 100 prospect yet, I do believe he has sneaky fantasy value given his ability to steal bases.  I would be aggressive in adding him to all Dynasty Leagues.

5. Andrew Heaney (LHP)

2013 Age: 22 BP: Oklahoma
Ht: 6-3 Weight: 180 Bats: Left Throws: Left ETA: 2013-14
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 R-LowA 27.0 32 13 6 2.00 10.00 4.33 1.41

The Marlins decided to play it safe with their first pick in the 2012 draft and selected polished college pitcher Andrew Heaney.  While he doesn’t have the upside of both Michael Wacha and Lucas Giolito, who were taken after Heaney, he does have a chance to move quickly through the minor league system and help the Marlins as soon as late next year.

Heaney’s stuff is good with a fastball siting 88-91 MPH and an above average curve and change-up.  He does have a clean delivery with excellent balance that allows him to repeat his delivery and therefore obtain excellent control of his pitches.  In reviewing his pitching mechanics, he is all arms legs and therefore has some deception in his delivery.  You add it all up, and you have a pitcher that should keep you in games but will probably not deliver elite strikeout totals.

Fantasy Impact: I see Heaney as a classic number three starter in a big league rotation.  Not a star, but a guy who should become a workhorse and provide value for both the Marlins and fantasy owners.  Is he a guy that I’m running out to add in my Dynasty League?  No, but if I have a minor league system with 15-20 players, I would see him as one of my last adds.

6. Adam Conley (LHP)

2013 Age: 22 BP: Washington
Ht: 6-3 Weight: 185 Bats: Left Throws: Left ETA: 2014-15
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 A-A+ 127.0 117 49 4 3.04 9.56 3.47 1.26

Drafted in the second round of 2011 from Washington State, Adam Conley was shifted between closer and starter during his collegian career but since joining the Marlins, he has been used exclusively as a starter.  The results have been very good with a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk-ratio while giving up only four home runs in 127 innings.  However, the scouting notes are not as rosy as the results.

Conley has an above average fastball that sits 91-93 and can touch higher but his breaking pitch is currently fringy at best.  I’m not sure the curve will ever develop and believe that Conley should focus on improving his slider that at times looks above average.  His change-up is a nice pitch with a lot of deception and fade.

Mechanically, Conley is a mess.   He throws across his body, basically slinging the ball, which puts a lot of pressure on his arm and shoulder.  While this can create deception and produce some short-term success, ala Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner, in general this approach leads to injury.  However, for now it’s working for Conley and if he can get a ticket to the majors with average stuff, maybe the Marlins should continue down this path.

Fantasy Impact: In general, I do not draft pitchers with poor mechanics on my Dynasty League.  While you can never predict injury, there is a lot of history that bodes poorly for the lefty.  However, there could be some short-term benefits with Conley as a back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever.

7. Chad James (LHP)

James was drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft with a lot of promise and why not, he has a great pitching body at 6-foot-4 and nearly 200 pounds, a fastball that can hit the mid-90’s, an above average curve and a plus change-up.  The problem is he’s never put it together and in fact his control and strikeout rates are going in the wrong direction.  That said, the mechanics look solid and the problem appears to be a curve that he can’t control.  Don’t give up on James and in fact, if he’s been dropped in your Dynasty League, consider picking him up.

8. Kolby Copeland (OF)

Drafted in the supplemental third round of the 2012 draft, Kolby Copeland is athletic with good bat speed that scouts project above average future power.  While he has speed, defensively, he tracks balls poorly that will hopefully be resolved through the development process.  While he’s a long way off, it’s important to monitor young toolsy athletes, as many times they turn into the stars of tomorrow.

9. Avery Romero (SS)

As I’m researching data for these profiles, I always ask – “Who should I know more about?”  For the Marlins, that name was Avery Romero, their 2012 third round draft choice.  Scouts believe that the hit-tool will play and that Romero has a chance to hit for not only average, but 10-15 home runs down the road.  His defense may be a problem and that might force a move to second base.

10. Zack Cox (3B)

Cox was selected in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Cardinals with the hope that they were getting a highly advanced hitter that would move quickly through their organization.  While there have been some bright spots, for the most part, Cox has been a disappointment.  His approach is very aggressive and while he does make good contact, his hit tool projects as an average tool.  The power also has not developed and the glove is questionable.  I’m clearly not bullish on Cox and believe he should be dropped in all Dynasty League formats.

9 comments on “Miami Marlins

  1. How does a fractured hand impact Marisnick prospect status? Not much cause he’s more of a long term play or is that a wrong assumption?

  2. What do think about Nate Eovaldi? Just a two pitch guy or will he continue to grow and be worthy of a roster spot?

    • I still like Eovaldi but you’re right, at the moment, he’s a two-pitch pitcher, but is still REALLY young. The slider and fastball are both plus offerings and with the changeup being a feel pitch, there’s a good chance it will develop. If not, he could develop into a power late inning bullpen arm. 2013 could still be a struggle but if you can, continue to ride him.

  3. Rich – I’m new to the site and one observation/suggestion would be to add a date to your posts. Is there a reason why you don’t include a date? I’ve really enjoyed the site thus far and I’m looking forward to the rest of your top 100.

  4. Great stuff, Rich. Where would you now slide Nicolino and Hechavarria?

    • Just wrote about them tonight. Marisnick would be #3, Nicolino would then slide into #5 after Osuna and Hechavarria would slide in after Chad James. It was a pretty good system but just moved to a Top 10 or better system.

  5. Yelich and Realmuto the real deals. Fernandez very good. Will be interesting with Ozuna in AA next year, Needs to work on plate discipline. Some of the younger pitchers on this list have great tools but mental game has a bit to go. You can be Vince Young out there with all the tools but if you don’t have the mental game… Heaney.. something tells me expensive future bullpen. A lot of good relief pitching in the Marlins organization that doesn’t get mentioned often on Prospects list. The big club desperately needs good relief pitching which is very strong right now in the AA and A+

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